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‘Slight Return’

Paul Muldoon’s Poetics of Place


Anne Karhio

This volume examines the relationship between poetic language and place in the work of Paul Muldoon. Through a close reading of the formal and stylistic aspects of his poems, the book explores the question of how poetry as an art form can be engaged to map the complex exchanges between language and the material, phenomenal, personal and social dimensions of our sense of place. In particular, it demonstrates how various forms of repetition and return, in language and memory, are crucial to Muldoon’s approach to place and landscape. Each chapter focuses on a specific aspect of the poet’s work: the naming of place; the genre of the long poem; poetry, music and nostalgia; and, finally, the place of poetry in the information age.

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Chapter 4: ‘Slight Return’: Place, Music and Nostalgia


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‘Slight Return’: Place, Music and Nostalgia


In 1994, Paul Muldoon had just attended the first production of the opera Shining Brow by the composer Daron Aric Hagen, for which he wrote the libretto (published in 1993). In an interview that same year, Lynn Keller asked the poet about how the experience of composing words for music had influenced his poetry:

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